“What’s Next?”

In the fall of 1999, I started college. I lived on my own for the first time and I joined the marching band. I went to class, took exams, learned to be an adult. And after that short year ended I went home again. I got my old job back (Being a waitress) and I remember that summer as if it were yesterday. I remember smells and colors. I remember my crowded old childhood bedroom, filled with the things that I had acquired over the years, things that no longer really fit in a little girl’s room. I remember spending time with my computer, my link to my friends scattered throughout the state. I remember spending time with my family and relaxing during the evenings with my TV, something i’d just gone literally 9 months without.
Remember that NBC marketing phrase, something about how if you didn’t see it the first time around, the summer repeats were new to you?
And so they were. I watched, I processed and I contemplated. One of those shows was The West Wing. And tonight, a lifetime later, it ends.
I am shrouded in unceasing amazement at how simple moments can hold such terrific memories. It’s remarkable how when I look back at the time I consider to be my “adult life” so far, I see this show in the background, or, perhaps better stated- I hear the music. And it’s funny how if you ask anyone close to me, probably not one would tell you that TWW was a favorite show of mine. It just came at the wrong time, a time when I couldn’t devote myself to any television or any good books or movies or activities. I was too busy working for a piece of paper. (The diploma that’s now hanging over my desk)
Recently, I got started watching The West Wing again and with each episode it was like watching rain wash away a newly painted but not yet dried watercolor- the colors grow murky over time and eventually you know all that will be left is a soggy gray sheet. I know that this show was truly special. And I jumped on board fully, just a little bit too late. How often do you find a successful fictional story about people who just want to do the right thing? Watching it reminds me that greatness is possible.
It’s just a TV show, you say?
You’re right, it is just a TV show, one in which I did not dedicate myself fully until it was nearing the end. But I ask this, if it’s just a TV show, if it’s just a book or a story, or a pet or a t-shirt or a photograph, then where in our lives, lies the passion of fantasy, the passion of enjoyment and the passion for goodness. Will the sun continue to rise and set? Well for goodness sake I sure hope so! Tomorrow it will just be another show that people watched and enjoyed and was then cancelled. But I know it brought more to people than just an hour of smart television. It showed that people, even if they are fictional characters, are capable of many wonderous things. Josiah Bartlet has been my president these past 7 years. I say goodbye to him and the magical work that is The West Wing– it will be missed.

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